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EDITORIAL: One cannot help but agree with Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai that the Afghan government has imposed what she calls “gender apartheid” in the country by denying women some of their most basic human rights, especially the right to education.

Indeed, women’s rights were one of the most hotly debated subjects when Pakistan facilitated the American withdrawal during meetings in Doha just before the Taliban came to power. And, sadly, one of the many promises that the Taliban made and did not keep was about women’s rights and the role they would be able to play in the Afghan society.

Now, just like before the war-on-terror, Afghanistan’s female population is completely sidelined, which is a shame.

Interestingly, Malala’s advocacy of women’s rights also made her question the Pakistani government’s policy of deporting all illegal aliens from the country, most of which happen to be Afghan.

Because while this policy is geared towards improving the security and economic situations, and rightly so, it also presents the paradox of subjecting thousands, perhaps millions, of Afghan girls to that same “gender apartheid”; which she wants to be recognised as a crime against humanity and criminalised at the international level.

There’s no doubt that the Taliban’s posture on a wide variety of issues needs to be checked. It’s true that they deserved to reclaim Kabul after braving and then defeating the mightiest military machine the world has ever seen.

Yet it’s equally true that their final return to power was facilitated by a political process, involving a number of countries but set in motion by Pakistan, which included certain conditions to set the American departure in motion. And the Taliban are, without a doubt, guilty of not honouring some of those promises.

They have not granted women the right to normal public life by denying them education and job opportunities. They’ve not revisited their old approach of sidelining religious and ethnic minorities. And they’ve not shut down TTP’s networks, even as the militia openly resumed its attacks on Pakistan.

The last point has now created a needless confrontation between Islamabad and Kabul when the former is the latter’s only window to the outside world and its sole pillar of support in tough times. That makes the Taliban’s stubbornness all the more difficult to understand.

Even China, which was a central part of the US withdrawal negotiations and promised recognition of the Taliban regime if agreements were honoured, has had to remind Kabul that it has not yet created the conditions for taking the diplomatic process forward.

Beijing has said that Kabul would have to “introduce political reforms, improve security and mend relations with its neighbours” before receiving full diplomatic recognition.

That is bad news for Afghanistan, because its isolation is one of the biggest reasons for its restricted level of development. It desperately needs other countries to engage and trade with it, otherwise neither the government nor the people will have much of a future.

Malala is right that the international community should make the Taliban accept and respect universal human rights, especially women’s rights, before moving things forward with them.

It doesn’t seem as if Pakistan has much leverage with the Afghanistan government when it comes to their internal reforms at the moment, so any change of direction will have to come from within.

Therefore, the Taliban need to ask themselves if keeping women and minorities marginalised is worth the isolation that will not end so long as those policies do not change.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

Comments

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KU Dec 10, 2023 10:11am
Everyone needs to understand that Afghanistan and its society have faced non-development in every sector of the economy and perpetual economic crises for some centuries. Gender apartheid is judgment given without an attempt to understand the reasons for not only this attitude towards women's rights but also on law and order. There are other subtle ways to ensure these rights and improving the economy is one of them. The Nobel laureate is only flogging a topic without giving solutions or reasons that would ensure the rights of women. Not surprisingly, she never mentions Ghani & Co., or previous rulers who devastated the country's economy by looting millions of dollars that were meant for Afghan people.
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ABDUL JABBAR Dec 10, 2023 11:57am
She is silent on massacres of innocent Palestinians by Israel army. Probably, she scares off her masters.
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Nasir Dec 10, 2023 12:35pm
A person who speaks up selectively for human rights can't be trusted to what her agenda might be and loses all authenticity and the moral right to speak about issues. What she is saying maybe right, but given her selective activism, her motives can't be trusted and hence she can't be given the voice she wants to become
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Naveed Dec 10, 2023 07:48pm
Mya be this just an attempt to divert the world's attention from Israeli aggression.
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Ali H Dec 10, 2023 07:49pm
Future PM of Pakistan Malala inshallah
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Zaya Zaya Dec 11, 2023 04:23am
What has she said about Zionisrael Apartheid committed against the Palestinians, topped with Genocide and resulting Palestinian Holocaust by those who claim they suffered in a Holocaust committed by Europeans (NOT by Palestinians); Malala is SILENT, Malala is also SILENT about Human Rights atrocities TERROR and TORTURE within Pakistan and she is worried more about another country but not her birth place; a Munafiq, soul seller; the taste of MONEY!!!
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HashBrown® Dec 12, 2023 06:00pm
@Zaya Zaya, "Malala is also SILENT about Human Rights atrocities TERROR and TORTURE within Pakistan and she is worried more about another country but not her birth place; a Munafiq, soul seller; the taste of MONEY!!!" Before you start forming a lynch mob, try to put a lid on your hatred for a young girl. Malala has REPEATEDLY talked about the right to education for girls in Pakistan - in fact whenever she does, it's people just like you who call her a "munafiq" all over again, so she'd damned either way. Yes I'm disappointed that she's been relatively quiet about the ongoing massacre of Palestinians, but it doesn't mean she's part of some sinister agenda - it just means she knows how to protect her profile in the west. Why does that make you so angry when virtually all heads of state across the Muslim world are doing the exact same thing?
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